Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2009 Jul 31;4(7):e6469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006469.

Does the clock make the poison? Circadian variation in response to pesticides.

Author information

Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, United States of America.



Circadian clocks govern daily physiological and molecular rhythms, and putative rhythms in expression of xenobiotic metabolizing (XM) genes have been described in both insects and mammals. Such rhythms could have important consequences for outcomes of chemical exposures at different times of day. To determine whether reported XM gene expression rhythms result in functional rhythms, we examined daily profiles of enzyme activity and dose responses to the pesticides propoxur, deltamethrin, fipronil, and malathion.


Published microarray expression data were examined for temporal patterns. Male Drosophila were collected for ethoxycoumarin-O-deethylase (ECOD), esterase, glutathione-S-transferase (GST), and, and uridine 5'-diphosphoglucosyltransferase (UGT) enzyme activity assays, or subjected to dose-response tests at four hour intervals throughout the day in both light/dark and constant light conditions. Peak expression of several XM genes cluster in late afternoon. Significant diurnal variation was observed in ECOD and UGT enzyme activity, however, no significant daily variation was observed in esterase or GST activity. Daily profiles of susceptibility to lethality after acute exposure to propoxur and fipronil showed significantly increased resistance in midday, while susceptibility to deltamethrin and malathion varied little. In constant light, which interferes with clock function, the daily variation in susceptibility to propoxur and in ECOD and UGT enzyme activity was depressed.


Expression and activities of specific XM enzymes fluctuate during the day, and for specific insecticides, the concentration resulting in 50% mortality varies significantly during the day. Time of day of chemical exposure should be an important consideration in experimental design, use of pesticides, and human risk assessment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center